7 Best Portable Audio Recorders (Comparison & Reviews)

Any smartphone or camera strive for picture quality. But, with higher demands on the visual range, our demands on sound are also increasing. In a video or podcast, quality, clear audio is especially important. This is where audio recorders come in to help. Also, to make them sound more clear, you may use a portable DAC amp.

Before, people paid more attention to ordinary voice recorders. Now everyone is looking for a device that will bring sound quality closer to professional. A professional audio recorder just gives you this opportunity.

In this review, we have collected the best audio recorders for you that have excellent characteristics.

This item has the best price and quality:

Our Top Pick
Tascam DR-44WL

Tascam DR-44WL

TASCAM's DR-44WL is the latest recording innovation from TASCAM. It's a portable handheld recorder with Wi-Fi.

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The list of the other great portable audio recorders with a comparison of the main characteristics:

ItemWeightDimensionsBatteriesFormat
Tascam DR-44WL

Tascam DR-44WL

12.2 ounces5.2 x 3.1 x 3.7 inches4 AA (included)MP3, WAVSee Best Price
Zoom H6

Zoom H6

16 ounces3.1 x 1.9 x 6 inches

4 AA (included)

WAV, MP3See Best Price
Olympus LS-P2

Olympus LS-P2

2.72 ounces4.30 x 1.60 x 0.60 inches1 AAA (included)FLAC, WAV, MP3See Best Price
Zoom H1n

Zoom H1n

2.4 ounces5.4 x 1.9 x 1.2 inches2 AAAWAV, MP3See Best Price
Tascam DR-22WL

Tascam DR-22WL

8 ounces2.1 x 1.4 x 6.1 inches2 AA MP3, WMASee Best Price
Zoom H4n

Zoom H4n Pro

10.6 ounces6.25 x 1.5 x 2.75 inches2 AAA (included)MP3See Best Price
ZOOM H5

ZOOM H5

18 ounces2,6 x 5,3 x 1,6 inches2 AA (included)MP3, WAVSee Best Price

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Tascam DR-44WL

Tascam DR-44WLIt’s a great solution for serious music recording. In full compliance with modernity, the recorder is for close integration with iOS and Android gadgets.

You can configure it or send to your smartphone ready-made records and live sound directly to your iPad. This is essential for direct processing without the need for wires.

The Built-in XY-stereo pair of microphones have vibration isolation from the body. Furthermore, it has an excellent overload capacity of 132 dB.

There are also balanced inputs for external microphones. These are full-size XLR connectors with phantom power supply. There are traditionally assembled sockets for 6.3 mm TRS jacks inside of them. Besides, they allow you to connect musical instruments.

Recording here is four-track, as the “music” recorder has to be in the first place. There is also a built-in multi-tracking option. So, on top of recording one instrument, you can play the second part.

You can also apply vocals and immediately use reverb. In multi-tracking mode, the device writes all channels into separate mono-files. In normal four-channel mode, you can also write two stereo files or a stereo file plus two mono files.

The recorder supports BWF recording with sampling rate up to 96 kHz (16 or 24 bits), WAV with the same frequencies and bits, MP3 up to 320 kbps.

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Zoom H6

Zoom H6The portable recorder from Zoom is today the top model in the manufacturer’s lineup. The recorder supports six-channel recording.

It has four balanced phantom-powered inputs for external microphones. Besides, it has linear inputs and outputs for standard 3.5mm jacks.

Thus, the choice of configuration options when recording is large. The 96 kHz sampling rate with 24-bit audio coding ensures high sound quality.

Moreover, you can use the Zoom H6 to record a one-man-band.

Features

Compared to the previous model, the number of recording channels has increased (from 4 to 6). Also, it is possible to record a recorder from a USB-port.

Another great feature is parallel recording with 6 dB weakening. You can activate it in the menu. The device saves loud sounds that can overload the recording at current settings in the backup without distortion. This six-channel recorder still remains the most advanced recorder in the ZOOM range.

It can record 4 audio sources and a stereo file from its own spare microphone. Thus, the scope of its application is quite broad. From recording sound for the home podcast to filming or recording live performances.

KitZoom H6 3

The recorder comes with two capsules, MID-SIDE (MSH-6) and X/Y, (XYH-6) foam wind protection, SD card for 2 GB, 4 AA batteries.

Everything is in a plastic case, with special compartments. Separately mention the capsule itself XYH-6. This microphone has an aperture of 14.6 mm in diameter.

It’s the biggest size of any recorders like this. The angle of the stereo phase changes from 90 to 120° rotation of the capsule as in H4nSP.

The Mid-side capsule of the MSH-6 also turned out to be good in its own way.

It makes very little noise by hearing and the stereo frame shoots much wider. You can adjust the stereo base level can from mono to +6dB.

Layout

The body is of rubberized plastic. The manufacturer has placed a color LED display at an angle. Here is quite a convenient overview. Especially when the recorder is on the table. On top, there are 4 analog handles, a switch to reduce the input level by 20 dB.

Under them, there are buttons for track selection and playback control. At the sides, there are XLR-TRS combo inputs. The headphone output has a separate jack and volume control. At the bottom, there is a battery compartment and belt windows so you can wear the recorder around your neck.

Record button here with a gentle press. So there will be no clicking on the record button when using the Pre recorder’s function. The recorder has a folder architecture to record and store projects. This is to separate the material. For example, select the folder FOLDER01 for recording rehearsals, and FOLDER02 for concerts.

Zoom H6 2Recording formats

ZOOM H6 supports WAV 44.1/48/96 kHz and mp3 48-320 kbps recording quality. Multi-track recording is possible in WAV format.

All information about the project is on the home screen:

  • working folder and project number
  • current recording time
  • input signal display
  • panorama and level of each track
  • recording format
  • phantom power availability
  • compressor or limiter status
  • whether auto-recording by signal strength
  • remaining recording time
  • battery charge level

Editing a file allows you to rename it, normalize the volume level, divide one file into two. Besides, you can cut off the beginning and end, adding voice tags to the project.

USB connector allows you to use the recorder as an audio interface.

In the audio interface mode, there is a Direct Monitoring installation. You can receive the incoming signal by the check without using the computer. You can also use Loopback. In this mode, the device feeds all audio signal that comes to the output directly to the interface input.

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Olympus LS-P2

Olympus LS-P2This compact recorder weighs only 75 grams with AAA battery installed. That’s why it will be interesting first of all for those who often have to carry something similar to them.

The case here is metal. This confirms its practicality and reduces radio interference to the sound path.

As is the case with a device of this type, there are two microphones for stereo sound recording.

The quality of the voice recorder is hard to come by. Good dynamic range, decent sensitivity of microphones are quite enough for music recording.

It uses the MP3 recording format. You can manually adjust the sensitivity of the microphones. This is really useful. OEM automatic gain change function is only suitable for speech.

This audio recorder is in a metal case. It also allows you to record sound in very high quality. A third microphone is centrally located inside the housing. It is to expand the low-frequency part of the recorded spectrum. If you turn on recording from three microphones, the lower frequency threshold changes from 60 to 20 Hz.

The recording voice recorder is able to record not only in the familiar WAV and MP3 formats but also in FLAC. It provides good quality recording and less space consumption on a memory card. AAA nickel battery powers this audio recorder.

If you want to install the recorder on a tripod, you will need to use a complete 1/4″ adapter.

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Zoom H1n

Zoom H1nThe Zoom H1n is a quality recorder from a manufacturer for which sound recording and processing is a business mission.

High-sensitivity microphones allow you to get high definition stereo recording and depth in WAV and MP3 formats.

Features of this audio recorder:

  • the largest frequency response
  • comfortable control
  • backlit LCD display
  • memory card support
  • built-in speaker
  • extra microphone input
  • stereo linear output
  • USB interface for PC connection
  • automatic recording, pre-recording and timer functions
  • power source – 2 AAA batteries

Layout

The recorder is in a plastic case, with microphones located in the X/Y 90° configuration. The microphone is of plastic, which protects it from shocks and is a frame for wind protection. At the top is a 127-segment LCD display, there is a backlight. The device turns it off after 15 seconds of rest.

Immediately below the display, there is a record button. On the side, there are track control buttons, a change of input, and an output signal. Also, this device has power on the slider. It has a function of blocking the rest of the buttons from accidentally pressing. You can use a USB port and two 3.5mm mini-jack sockets for connection.

The bottom has a thread for mounting on a DSLR camera, a battery compartment, and three switches. LF filter, auto-recording level mode, and WAV/MP3 format selection. There is a small speaker for listening to the recorded material.

The plastic cover mentioned above will allow you to put the recorder in your pocket while recording. During recording, you can put temporary markers to navigate inside the file. For example, if you are recording a conference, you can put the finish and start tag.Zoom H1n 2

There is no editing of the recorded files. You can make other edits in the audio editor. Battery runtime is up to 10 hours.

Settings

The first time you turn on or, if the recorder was lying down without a battery, the first thing to do is to set the date and time.

In-home screen mode, the display shows:

  • input level
  • WAV or MP3 recording format and quality
  • battery charge level
  • the remaining recording time.

If there is the enabled low-pass filter, the device will display the corresponding icon. In playback mode, there is:

  • the time remaining until the end of the file
  • record date
  • recorded signal strength

If there is the enabled key lock, the display will show “HOLD” when you press any key.

Recording starts and ends by pressing the “REC” button. It is not possible to pause recording. When recording stops and continues, the device created a new file. By the way, the body conducts sound well. If you press the buttons during recording, this recorder will save all the presses. The remote control is not provided in the design.

During recording via mic/line input, the device disables built-in microphones.

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Tascam DR-22WL

Tascam DR-22WLTascam DR-22WL is perfect for recording a dialog. Place it on a table between participants or mount it on any tripod with a quarter-inch thread.

Plug in an external stereo microphone if necessary. Besides, you can talk for a long time.

This audio recorder can be powered not only by AA batteries/batteries but also via the USB connector.

Thus, you can connect the recorder to an optional branded power supply unit or to any charging from the phone.

You can choose the format of audio recording in stereo. BWF (16 or 24 bits) is a special “broadcast” format, optimal for further audio editing in the video.

There is also WAV (16 or 24 bits similarly) and MP3 with a bitrate of 32 to 320 kilobits per second. So the device is well suited for recording conversations and for professional interviews. You can include “Mono” instead of “Stereo” in the sound settings.

So, the recorder will start recording two mono tracks in parallel. It will be even more convenient if you need to further process the sound. In the interview mode, the device will automatically activate the mono recording.

You can also record uncompressed WAV and “cheap” MP3 simultaneously. High-quality recording can be kept and its compressed version can be quickly sent over Wi-Fi.

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Zoom H4n Pro

Zoom H4nIt’s a four-channel recorder. It comes with a plastic case and batteries. At a glance, it is clear that this is a professional recorder.

Besides, it has two extra mic/line inputs on the combo connectors. They come with a phantom power supply, with a choice of 24 and 48 volts.

The loopback microphone input supports plug-in power. It is on the bottom of the built-in microphone capsule. Threads for mounting on a tripod are metal.

Built-in microphones change the angle of the stereo phase from 90° to 120° by turning the capsules. On top of the display, there are 4 buttons.

They are for quick access to folders, files, playback speed, and recording format. You can quickly adjust microphone sensitivity and headphone volume.

Battery life is 6 hours and in Stamina Economy Mode for up to 11 hours. You can adjust the bass filter, three types of compressor, and limiter separately for microphones and line inputs.

Above all, there is extra functionality:

  • auto-recording
  • pre-recording buffer
  • stereo image control
  • metronome
  • tuner
  • variable playback speed without tonality change

The auto-level of the input signal is in a certain way. The recorder “listens” to the incoming signal at the largest sensitivity. If the incoming signal overloads the channel, the recorder reduces gay and stays on it. So it’s not actually an auto-level, it’s an auto-adjustment of sensitivity at peak.

When connected to a computer via USB there are two modes: removable drive and audio interface.

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ZOOM H5

ZOOM H5It’s a four-channel recorder. It’s the latest model from ZOOM portable recorders. At first glance, it looks pretty much like the H4n, but it’s not exactly the same. They have different functionality.

Here you can connect a gun or module to two extra inputs, depending on the situation.

The result is a portable 4-channel recorder. It has the possibility of replacing the main microphone capsule with other modules.

Like the previous models, ZOOM H5 has a solid-state SD card with the largest capacity of 32 GB. Mic/line inputs and microphone capsules have separate level changes with analog handles.

A bar covers them from accidental rotation. The menu works quickly. The inputs have Lo-cut 10 thresholds from 80 to 237 Hz, three compressors, three limiters.

Everything is assigned separately to interchangeable microphones as well as to linear inputs. You can hear the effect immediately during monitoring. To listen to the compressor’s compression level, simply scroll through it.

Besides, the mic/line inputs have a -20 dB attenuator and a phantom power supply with a choice of +24 and +48 volts.

At the bottom of the H5, there is an AA x 2 battery compartment and a tripod mount thread. Battery life is over 15 hours. It also has a 20 dB input reduction, a tuner, and a metronome.

With firmware output 2.0 there is a Sound Marker function. The device gives you a tone signal or two types of clicks. They are at the beginning or at the beginning and end of the track, to then synchronize audio and video.

The Backup rec function works perfectly. During recording, the recorder creates another file with the signal level lower by 12 dB. The record button is very quiet. If you use the pre-recording buffer, there will be no clicking on the track.

The audio interface has two modes: Stereo 2/2 and Multitrack 4/2 input/output. For Multitrack mode, you will need a driver, which you can find on the manufacturer’s website.

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FAQ for portable audio recorders buyers:

How much audio recording time do memory cards provide?

Audio records from our review are designed for long recording times in high quality. Since multi-channel audio files take up quite a lot of space on a memory card, the devices are equipped with slots for SD cards of 32 or 64 GB. Most often this is enough for several hours of sound. If one card is not enough for a long recording, it is easy to replace it and continue recording.

What quality do these audio recorders provide?

These are professional gadgets that can digitize sound with a high bit rate and sampling rate. These models support 48 or 96 kHz and up to 24 bit.

What technical data should I pay attention to when choosing an audio recorder?

Maximum sound pressure level, microphone sensitivity, an upper frequency filter, size, weight, power.

What additional functions do high-quality audio recorders have?

Automatic recording, sound processing effects, display, internal memory, and built-in battery.

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